Age of Conan

Nils and I are pretty much at uni now 24/7 trying to finish our stuff – and breaks are filled with dreamy fantasies of what life is like on the other side of this tiresome tunnel! So naturally we’re talking a lot about games. So we’ve been looking into Age of Conan. Man! It looks awesome! I’m still worried that my testosterone levels aren’t high enough for truly enjoying it, but I had a look at the Age of Conan wiki – and my heart started racing with excitement! 60% of that was probably just the enjoyment of the hope of being able to play again – but listen to this:

“We call the engine Real Combat, and it is based on six directions, or ways, of attacking an opponent with a sword. First, you can hack down against the head. Second, you can slash diagonally down from the right, while the third is slashing the same way from the left. Fourth, you can thrust against the torso. Fifth, you can slash diagonally up from the left, and sixth, you can slash diagonally up from the right. The point here is that these directions lend themselves naturally to being strung together in combinations. These combos unlock additional damage and faster combat, if done well.”

– Gaute Godager

What fun!!!! And it looks freakin’ awesome!!!

Additionally we were blessed by Marius Enge’s presence on Thursday. It was supposed to be an hours lecture but ended up being about 2 hours. What an absolutely delightful man. He was just so informative and answered annoyingly stupid questions (from yours truly) clearly and inspirationally. He informed us a bit about how Funcom works internally and I just sat there thinking “I WANNA WORK AT FUNCOM, I WANNA WORK AT FUNCOM, I WANNA WORK AT FUNCOM!! SOD THIS ACADEMIC BULL – I WANNA WORK AT FUNCOM!!! I BELONG AT FUNCOM!!!”.

He was there to talk about the AI in the game, which was amusing even to me, who understood 1/100th of the content.

I could go on and on – but I need to run! Have an absolutely great weekend, all!!!!

Breakfast with Nick Yee

I spent this morning curled up on my sofa with breakfast and coffee and watched Nick Yee’s presentation at PARC – “The Blurring Boundaries of Play: Labor, Genocide, and Addiction”. Every now and then it’s good to have a ‘step back and see the whole picture’ presentation – I thoroughly enjoyed it! Ofcourse Mr. Yee’s fabulous work on why people play is represented, but he also covers the terrain of addiction, gold farming and ‘the new golf’!
Definitely a good start for anyone wanting to look into MMORPGs and what they’re all about. Any new students wondering what to write about? Watch, watch, watch!!! To me, it was a joyous breakfast, but now…I’m gonna be late for a lecture!

Ludic Spray and Adult cultural preferances

Jeez! The folks over at Guardian Games Blog are back full swing after the summer and with impeccable style!!! I just have to cut’n’paste their stuff here!
Good pondering reliable Aleks has discussed with her friends and come up with a brilliant new word: Ludic Spray!

“At a meeting last month, a group of us decided to term this sort of thing “ludic spray,” inspired by Zimmerman and Salen’s definition of a “game,” from their book Rules of Play, and further extrapolated by Zimmerman here:

Game Play is the formal play of a game that occurs when players follow rules…

Ludic Activities are other kinds of activities that we would recognize as play (two dogs chasing each other, two kids rough-housing, someone casually tossing and catching a ball)…

The “spray,” therefore, is the stuff that is inspired by a formal game but doesn’t adhere to its rules. This can be anything from fan fiction to independent spin-offs to formal business ventures (as in the case of the previously-mentioned economies).”

I shout yay! for effort! But…I honestly have a hard time believing it’s not more complicated than that! Seems a bit too simple! Not that I mind simple, it just encompasses too much – and it becomes more like the dust bunnies I shove under the sofa, you know?
Anyways…she had a great link in there to a Zimmerman interview, where he discusses definitions of game, play, narrative and well…the usual yoo ha – Klabbers’ people and Young’un Stavelin should find it interesting!
Also!!! Greg comments

“And yes, I know games mags are aimed at a much younger audience – Edge aside – but seeing the sci-fi/fantasy hegemony splattered across 90 odd pages made you realise that the industry has a long way to go if it wants to gain or retain the interest of adults whose cultural interests extend beyond Lord of the Rings and Star Trek.”

Too right!

Sigh! Too many interesting reads!!! Too little time in the day!!! Need to get back to work!

So…anyways…

I know I’ve been doing a lot of cut’n’pasting on this blog lately, I do apologize to those who are waiting for my analytical academic insights . I guess I’ve been trying to resist my first impulsive of “Ooh! There’s a thought! I should blog about that” and instead diving straight into my thesis and documenting it there! So my blog writing is just amusing little tidbits I come across on my daily surfsessions. But maybe I should be pasting some extracts from my thesis in here? We’ll see what happens. Right now I’m just obsessing about sewing all my random thoughts and analysis together so that something that can at least resemble some wholeness is presentable. It’s really scary how many times I contradict myself in this process! But yeah…before I go off on a “I take myself too seriously” tantrum – for your amusement:

The spectacular Raph Koster’s written “The Ten Commandments of Online Worlds”, which is, as expected, insightful and adorable!

1. Thou shalt not mistake online worlds for games, for they encompass far more; nor shalt thou forget that play is noble, and game is no epithet.

2. Thou shalt not disrespect thy players, nor treat them as mere database entries or subscriptions, but rather as people, for thy power is granted you by them.
3. Thou shalt not remove fun or implement unfun for the sake of longer subscriber longevity, nor shalt thou consider thy sort of fun to be the only sort of fun to be had, for many and mysterious are the ways of enjoyment.
4. Thou shalt not blindly do what has been done before, but rather shalt know why all is as it is, and how it could be different.
5. Thou shalt create and follow rules that bind thyself as well as the players, for thou art of the community, not above it.
6. Thou shalt not make thy world a place for players to do real harm unto one another, or for thee to do harm unto players.
7. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s userbase, but instead be true to thine own userbase, for thou hast made them a garden, and thy job is cultivation.
8. Thou shalt make every activity within thy world one that stands alone enjoyably; if it be a game, then thou shouldst make it a fun game on its own merits; if it be other, then thou shouldst make it true to itself. Thy world doth not make boring things into enjoyable things merely because it is thy world.
9. There shalt be no number nine.
10. Honor thy ancestors, for they solved most of thy design problems.

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"To me the proof of success was that the fans didn’t hunt me down and kill me"

Words uttered by Louis Castle on the success of Blade Runner at the E3 Workshop: The Inner Game: What Goes Into The Industry’s Best-Selling Titles.
He apparently considered being true to the story as a success – I thought that was quite charming! It seems failures have a lot to do about lack of sales. Tetsuya Mizuguchi listed Rez as a failure because of the lack of sales success: “I love Rez! I spent a lot of time and energy to creat it, but commercially it failed. Marketing said they couldn’t find any words to describe the game. ‘Is it a shooter? Is it a music game?’ So it was like a wall going up. I felt miserable…I still want to break this wall!” – yeah!! Go for it!! It’s a shame that a game doesn’t do well on the commercial market because the marketing staff are having a hard time defining what the game is! That definitely is a pathetic and useless wall!!

Games For Health

So...Games For Health is hosting an event right before E3 (May 9th if you’re in the area). They’ve made a promotional video which I think deserves some attention here. You’ve got to admit that this is a brilliant initiative.

I’ve started my own secret campaign here in Bergen! I’m sending e-mails to different departments at the university on different games and topics I think are relevant to them. I very seldom get any response, ofcourse! But what do I have to loose?

Blogject

I suppose deep down inside I knew it was coming, but now that it’s here I’m kinda freaked out!

So my new word for the day: Blogject.

And here’s the Xbox360 Blogject! It’s basically ‘blogging’ your gameplay on the Xbox 360 – gathering your data and putting out a mix of words that really freak me out:

(I am an Xbox 360, and I can talk)
Owner: lil haf dead
4/10/2006
lil haf dead showed up yesterday ready to dominate. Total gamer score stands at 660. That is a gain of 10 points over last time! He played Tiger Woods PGA TOUR06, Perfect Dark Zero gaining 1 achievement, and did it while drooling over my awesome graphics and sound.

Maybe I’m not ready for this type of thing just yet!

I suppose I agree with Clickable Culture really: “The end result is that the Xbox 360 develops a designed personality. While the console currently appears to be rather peppy. I’d rather see an enraged, depressed, or paranoid console”

I suppose I’m more for leaving personality out all together! I mean doesn’t playtime, scores and game preferences speak for themselves? But I suppose if they absolutely HAVE to do this, why oh why does it have to be the chirpiness equivelent to those always enthusiastic hardcore aerobic instructors? Freaks me out really!